The state of mobile sports betting in Florida has just become…a whole lot more complicated. On Wednesday, federal district judge Dabney Friedrich rejected the Seminole Tribe’s request for a stay of a Monday ruling that nullifies the previous legal agreement between the tribe and the state of Florida.

Florida Mobile Betting

In simpler terms, it was ruled that the Florida mobile betting plan, which launched on the first of November, was in violation of the Florida state constitution and the federal Indian Gambling Regulation Act (IGRA.) This ruling means that at least for now, the Seminole Tribe does not have the legal right to operate mobile sports betting in Florida. This also means that the Seminoles technically no longer have a monopoly on the sports betting industry in Florida, something that was widely considered a big problem.

Judge Friedrich’s Monday ruling confirmed that the preexisting agreement between the state of Florida and the Seminole Tribe violated the Indian Gaming Regulation Act because it allows bettors to place sports bets from anywhere in the state via the Seminoles’ Hard Rock Sportsbook app, instead of allowing bets to only be placed on tribal land. The Seminole Tribe claimed and still do claim that the computer and online servers processing these bets are still located on their land, and therefore do not violate the IGRA.

Late on Wednesday, Judge Friedrich denied the Seminole Tribe’s request for a stay on her Monday ruling, claiming that the tribe failed to demonstrate the necessity of a stay, and that they also failed to prove that they would be substantially harmed due to the loss of mobile sports betting. However, she also said that Florida and the Seminole Tribe are both allowed and encouraged to establish a new legal agreement over the sports betting industry, but that agreement cannot include online/mobile betting.

That being said, the Hard Rock Sportsbook app was still functioning, operating fully, and accepting bets as of Thursday afternoon. So…should Florida bettors still place mobile bets? 

State Representative and former House Gaming Chair Randy Fine said no, “unless you want to be a felon.” It seems like mobile betting in Florida will have to stop, at least for now.

The question is, who benefits from this ruling? The answer to that is family-owned businesses and small businesses. The owners of Magic City Casino said in a statement, “Last night’s ruling was a victory for family-owned businesses like ours who pay their fair share in taxes and believe the free market should guide the business operations of gaming venues. The judge clearly understood the blatant violation of IGRA as her ruling demonstrates. We look forward to working with the Governor, Legislature, and the citizens of Florida to pave a path forward that ensures a fair gaming marketplace exists in Florida.”

There’s no doubting that the state of the legal sports industry is complicated, multi-faceted, and highly nuanced in Florida. This ruling hopefully brought some more clarification to the issue and hopefully will help lawmakers move this process along, albeit slowly.

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